Explicit Grammar: Teaching Relative Clauses

I’ve been experimenting this year with different ways of making the mechanics of writing a little more explicit to my students. My hope is that the more grammar knowledge my students have, the more explicitly they can understand their choices when writing. For some, this might involve showing them something new. For others, it might make them a…

Ignite the Thesaurus! Synonymy in the classroom.

I don’t wish to start off the blog-post by sounding too boastful. But, and I’m sure you’ll be jealous to learn this, I have a full set of thesauruses in my classroom. Yep, that’s right. While most other English classrooms along the corridor struggle along with only a handful of mismatched, different editions, I have maintained…

Grammar Lessons for Descriptive Writing

As much as I love marking, it can be one the quickest and most efficient ways to make me feel like a failure.  This sensation struck me in spades last term after I marked my classes’ efforts at descriptive writing coursework – part of the Cambridge iGCSE course. As I’m only able to give general comments about students’…

My day at PedagooSW

I was delighted when Pedagoo SW was announced to be coming to Bristol. Aside from a 3 year interlude at University, which is all a little bit of a blur, I’ve lived in and around Bristol my whole life and love the idea that we can welcome a group of people from around the UK…

Risking it with Rhetoric Part Two: Designed to be Spoken

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about my experimentation with teaching rhetoric. The process marked a departure from what I had taught in previous years. My main justification for this was that if my students were going to analyse non-fiction, then certain speeches, packed full of fascinating language and steeped in our cultural history, would…

John the Reader

Like many other English teachers, I spend a lot of time thinking about what texts I should study with my classes. All English teachers, I believe, care deeply about their students’ reading, and are keen to develop a love of reading, so that students will read for pleasure throughout their school careers and beyond. So…

What’s the best way to teach vocabulary?

I don’t think it’s controversial to say that being able to read, understand and write words is incredibly important to every child’s education. It might even be so plainly obvious as to not merit questioning. The more words my students can read and understand, the more complex and challenging texts they can acess. The more…